Wayne Cook
April 1, 2006
Photos By: Miles Cook, Manufacturers

The original instrumentation found on the classic Ford cars we love can leave a lot to be desired. A tachometer was almost never included. Even a Boss 302 wasn't equipped with a factory tach as standard equipment. It had to be ordered extra.

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The idiot lights that were ubiquitous on many cars from the Total Performance years were found in abundance on Ford vehicles. The factory figured warning lights were the way to go for drivers too interested in conversation or the radio to check on gauges. The average motorist wasn't likely to make a habit of regularly checking instrumentation, but once the red lights came on, the driver couldn't possibly miss them.

The big drawback with warning lights is that the problem is already fully developed when they come on. There's no chance for the driver to see an emerging pattern or tendency. This is why more expensive cars don't have only a warning light for engine temperature. With a gauge, you can see the problem coming, and it might be possible to avoid some serious damage in the event of overheating. The gauge could mean the difference between a replaced thermostat and a replaced engine. Likewise, it's nice to be informed of a developing trend towards low or erratic oil pressure instead of just being told that there is no pressure.

It's easy to understand why additional instrumentation is needed, and there are a lot of different options available when it comes to gauge upgrades. According to your budget and needs, you can keep it simple and inexpensive or go all out with full instrumentation for every vital function. Let's look at some of the choices for upgrading the instrumentation on a classic Ford.

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